The Resonance of Stone

Terry Tempest Williams  /  1 Min Read  /  Activism

“Castleton Tower has a pulse. We have a pulse. The Earth has a pulse.”

Climbers know rock moves. And scientists now have proof rock has a voice, too. The resonance of rock formations happens when a structure's natural modes of vibrations, inherent to every landform or creature, are being excited by something like the wind or an earthquake. Geologists from the University of Utah placed seismometers on Castleton Tower, a large freestanding rock tower in the Colorado Plateau, and recorded its vibration, then sped up the recording 50 times and amplified its sound. The voice of Castleton Tower inspired this illustration by Rhiannon Williams.

Terry Tempest Williams lives in Castle Valley, Utah, with her husband Brooke. When she meets a team of geologists from the University of Utah who are studying the lifespan of rock formations within the Colorado Plateau, sacred landforms important to the religious beliefs of the Diné, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute and other nations, she learns these geologic landforms sound alive; you just have to know how to listen.

Listen to Terry Tempest Williams read “The Resonance of Stone” from her home in Castle Valley.

This essay, written especially for Patagonia, will appear in the new paperback version of Erosion: Essays of Undoing, by Terry Tempest Williams, published this fall by Picador.

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